Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 04/18/09 at 01:20 AM ET
On Friday night, the Hurricanes played a much better game than they did on Wednesday, and the end result was a 2-1 overtime win off the stick of Tim Gleason. With the road split, Carolina has stolen home ice from the Devils. Games three and four will be in Raleigh on Sunday and Tuesday.
Carolina is no stranger to overtime hockey in the playoffs, and defenseman Nic Wallin has been the go-to guy. He has three overtime winners in his playoffs career, which is tied for second among active players. Although he didn’t notch the game winner, he’s rumored to have played a major part in it.
From the go, Carolina looked much better than they did on Wednesday. They were sharper in all three zones. Most importantly, they were able to establish a forecheck. Unfortunately, they did not improve on their lack of discipline from game one. Carolina was guilty of four penalties in the first period alone, leading to three power plays for the Devils.
The second Devils power play featured a disallowed goal when Zach Parise batted the puck in from the low slot with a high stick. Carolina had dodged a bullet, but it eventually hit them just a few seconds later. At 10:44, Parise legally tipped a shot in from the slot, giving the home team a 1-0 lead. Paul Martin and Patrik Elias assisted on Parise’s second goal of the playoffs.
Carolina drew a penalty late in the first, which would have been a carry-over to the second period. It looked like that would be the case, but the Canes cashed in at 19:35 of the period. Ray Whitney fired a hard shot wide left of the net. The rebound went out to Eric Staal at the bottom of the left circle, and he fired it in behind Brodeur. Sergei Samsonov picked up the secondary assist.
The second period was scoreless and evenly played, but Carolina’s discipline continued to be a problem. They gave the Devils two more power plays, and although the PK units did a great job, it’s getting a little old. I was starting to wonder how many times would be too many. Carolina was the least penalized team all throughout the regular season, but now that the games really matter, their discipline has failed them.
The third stanza was also scoreless and, quite honestly, dull. Each team had one power play opportunity, but there weren’t any great chances on either side.
During the third intermission, Canes fans everywhere started to anticipate the call of “HEY HEY WHADDYA SAY? THE SECRET WEAPON WINS IT!”. Nic Wallin is nicknamed “The Secret Weapon” because he has three career OT winners in the playoffs. Who would expect that out of a second pairing defenseman? Exactly!
Apparently, in a scene straight out of “Major League” or “Bull Durham”, Nic Wallin “blessed” the sticks of some of his teammates on Monday night, transferring some of his mojo into them. Tim Gleason’s was one of the “blessed” sticks. It worked.
Timmaaay one-timed a shot in from the right point, through a screen set by Eric Staal, ending the game, knotting the series, and sending the Canes home on a happy note.
Gleason, who hadn’t scored a single goal all season, picked up the game-winning goal. This is his first post-season, so naturally, this is his first Stanley Cup playoff point. Joe Corvo got the only assist.
In the post-game interview, Gleason sounded eerily like Josef Vasicek , who scored an improbable OT winner against New Jersey in game five of the 2002 Eastern quaterfinal. Vasicek said something like “I just close my eyes and shoot puck as hard as I can”. Gleason’s quote tonight was “Honestly, I just closed my eyes and shot it, hoping it would go in. I don’t have all the skill in the world, but….”
In addition to getting the game-winner, Gleason was absolutely huge. He had six hits, leading all players and doubling the total of the Devils leading hitter.
Carolina still has some room for improvement, but it’s just effectively become a brand new best-of-five series and Carolina now has home ice.
Game three will be Sunday night in Raleigh, and game four on Tuesday. Drop for both games will be 7:30. Due to laziness in filing my income tax returns, I didn’t have the money to pony up for playoff tix, so I won’t be there.
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.